McNeil hits milestone, Fenwick girls tie Ursuline Academy

Fenwick multi-sport athlete Lexi McNeil (left) committed to join the track and field team at Boston College. (Item File Photo)


PEABODY — The Bishop Fenwick girls hockey team moved one point closer to qualifying for the Division 2 North state tournament with a hard-fought 3-3 tie against Ursuline Academy Sunday at James McVann-Louis O’Keefe Rink.

Senior captain Lexi McNeil notched her 100th career point with an assist in the second period. Sophomore forward Gabby Davern scored two goals, while freshman forward Emma Perry scored one goal and assisted on another. McNeil finished with two assists.

“I really didn’t know about needing two points to reach 100,” said McNeil. “I guess I knew I was close and it feels pretty great to have 100, but it couldn’t happen without all of my linemates who’ve fed me pucks over the past four years. It was definitely a hard-fought back-and-forth game but we played pretty well. Ursuline was tough, they came out fast every period.”

Both teams had chances in the last three minutes. With two and a half minutes left, Davern walked in alone and flipped a high shot on Bears’ goaltender Lucy Reardon. Reardon made the save, but the puck came loose in the crease only to be covered up by Reardon as Davern attempted to poke the rebound home.

With 90 seconds to go, Mattucci made a great play to break up a chance by Bridget Popkin. Seventh-grader Kayla Rice collected the loose puck and broke in alone on the left side. Mattucci might have saved the day for Fenwick as she took Rice down to stop the play, incurring  a tripping penalty in the process with 32.2 seconds to play.

“I thought Jill really picked up her game in the last period and she had to take that penalty,” said Fenwick coach Doug Anderson. “I called her over when they took a timeout and told her that was a good hockey play as if she didn’t do what she did, that would have been trouble. She also blocked a few shots earlier in the game.”

Not only did Fenwick successfully kill off the Mattucci penalty, the Crusaders came close to winning the game.

Perry won the ensuing faceoff with freshman Lauren Diranian collecting the loose puck and clearing it out of the defensive zone, where Perry broke in alone on Reardon. Her shot was saved and McNeill was denied as she tried to poke the puck into the net.

With 10.5 seconds left, Popkin won a faceoff and played it into the corner where junior forward Sarah Manning and freshman forward Emily McHugh tried to keep the puck tied up. Perry managed to poke the puck loose to freshman defenseman Catherine Salvo on the left point. Slavo got the shot off, but it was deflected wide at the buzzer.

“Overall, Emma Perry played very well. She had that terrific goal on the breakaway to put us in front and had some chances late as well,” said Anderson.

Anderson added that he was also pleased with the Crusaders’ defensive effort.

“Daphne (Jalbert) had a couple of good saves when we needed them and all four defensive players were solid with freshman Catherine (Salvo), a lefty on the left side, along with sophomore Allison Countie, and another freshman Lauren Diranian, and they all played very well today. They kept their big players at bay for most of the game. This was a good game to walk from with a tie.”

Both teams started slowly in the first period, but they stepped up the intensity in the final two periods.

Fenwick had an early lead on a goal by Davern (from Perry and McNeill) a little under five minutes in to the first period.

With 1:28 to go, Popkin leveled the score at 1-1 (unassisted). She sped into the offensive zone, then did a 360-spin-around move to open up a shot, which she buried into the net, top shelf.

The Bears came out on the attack to start the second period and had the Crusaders back on their heels in the opening minute. Rice (from Abbey Daley and Meghan Foley) cashed at the 13:56 mark to give the Bears a 2-1 lead.

With 9:09 left in the period, Davern made it a 2-2 game with her second goal of the game (from McNeill and Mattucci).

The Crusaders dodged a major bullet late in the period when they took back-to-back penalties and had to play short-handed, including a 38-second stretch two-men down.

As it had in the second period, Ursuline came out flying in the third, but it was Fenwick that struck first. An Ursuline defender fell, opening up a breakaway for Perry, who did not disappoint, firing the puck top-shelf right to give the Crusaders a 3-2 lead with 13:10 to go in the game.

Four minutes later, Manning tied the game on a seeing-high shot by from the right point, unassisted, just inside the blue line.

“We would have liked to win the game, but that’s a very good team and both teams had opportunities to win the game,” Anderson said. “It’s a big point for us toward the tournament.”


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